Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cornell Johnson MBA Program Changes its Core Curriculum

The Cornell Johnson MBA program will be updating their curriculum to tailor its education towards building leadership skills, and with a second goal of greater alignment with the recruitment process. Read on here for details.

John Couke

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Research MBA Programs using my Social Bookmarks

It is important that you, the MBA applicant, intensively research your MBA options prior to submitting the application to ensure you are applying to those programs that fit your needs and goals best.

Towards this, let my collection of bookmarks help!

I have spent years reading up on and researching business schools around the world. When I come across some new information about a particular course or new process in the admissions committee, I categorize that information using tags so that I (and you!) can easily locate the information. I do this using the social bookmarking system provided by There's a lot there, so below are some examples of how to navigate this site.



This will give you a list of 6,000+ articles tagged with "MBA". That's too much - I know. So narrow it down a bit.,admissions

This is a list of articles I have tagged with both "MBA" and "admissions", and so it is a list of resources focused on admissions.,admissions,interview

These links target the interview process for b-schools.

You can also search for topics like these:,fit,culture,curriculum,essays

..and of course you can search by specific schools:,Harvard,Stanford,Booth,Kellogg

Look around, and if you like start from the main page and drill down from there:

NOTE: sometimes pages load a bit slowly..  if this happens don't worry, just refresh the page and it should come up.

Hope my own passion for researching MBA programs helps you learn more about your target programs, and/or find the right match for you.

John Couke

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Choosing an MBA Admissions Counselor

These days, more than ever, you have a lot of choices when it comes to choosing an MBA admissions counselor.  There are a lot of things to consider, not the least of which include the location and/or flexibility of the counseling service, and the availability of the counselor him/herself.  You want to make sure your partner throughout this process will answer your questions in a timely way and generally be available to you!

A bigger thing to keep in mind though is the feel you have when communicating with a potential counselor - is this someone I can work with? Will I respect what they have to say?  Do they seem to be listening to me? Do they understand what I want to accomplish and why? I think that clients, and often counselors themselves, are interested in the sense of "fit" they feel with each other, as the applications they are discussing together are of great importance and clarity and focus are needed to be successful.

However, beyond the flexibility of the scheduling, and beyond the comfort level you have with a prospective counselor, one thing stands above everything else.

Has your prospective counselor helped people gain admission to your top choice program(s) before? 

If they have, great. Ask questions. What years, and how many people? Ask them if there may be anything different about your situation (note: there definitely will be).

If they haven't, then naturally you are accepting some degree of risk if you elect to work with them.  This, to me, is simple common sense. What have they done? If you are aiming for a particular top MBA and they have a lot of experience with other top programs, then this could be alright. But what if they have little or no experience helping people get into MBA programs at all?  Maybe in such a case their selling points include transferable skills that they feel will help you with your application, such as their own admissions experience or their communication skills gained from a different kind of job. This may work or it may not, and the risk you assume is based on the idea that they will be able to figure things out and adapt well to this new situation as you work on your applications.

The key here is to look around, and talk directly to those potential counselors about their experience and your needs. Choose the one that offers the best fit for you, and don't settle at any stage of the process. This may take a bit of time - but in the end it will be worth it.

John Couke

Sunday, April 13, 2014

MBA essay goals

My goal in 2014 is to provide a lot of (hopefully) useful information for MBA applicants. I am kicking this off this year with the write-up below about goals. This is because at the brainstorming stage of essays, people start to address basic questions such as "why do I need an MBA?", "what relevant skills do I have for this?" and "what schools might fit me best?". All of these questions need to be answered right alongside "what is it I want to do in the future." After all, it is your goals that are driving the process here - if you know what you want to do in the future, then you can figure out what skills you already have that will be useful, what you need to learn to get there, and which schools are best at providing those things to you. So, when developing your own goals, consider the criteria listed here as starting points.

Good MBA Essay goals:

are a logical progression of your experience and the MBA

The short-term goal should be relevant to both your experience and the MBA you'll get.  At the same time, any mid-term or long-term goals should be well-thought out and connected to the achievement of the short-term goals.

show you at your best

What is your potential, given your current level of experience and the MBA to which you are applying? This should be seen through your goals. If you can and want to position yourself to be running a company that is changing the world, then this should be in your goals.

confirm your passion

What kind of impact are you really passionate about having on the world? Where does that passion come from? The answers to these questions should be apparent in a well-crafted goals essay. 

are easy to explain/understand and therefore grasp

You don't want to have to spend 2 pages or 5 minutes detailing what your goals mean, or why they are important.  Good goals should be clear and impressive.

are strategic

This is perhaps the most important thing to remember. The goals you put in your application are not a promise, nor are they your father's wish or the instructions from your boss. They are instead a portrait of your potential, an advertisement of what you are positioning yourself to become, an introduction to who you are now and will be in the future that puts you in the best possible light and maximizes your chances of getting admitted to a top MBA program.

John Couke